Bideford home swap day helps customers find their ideal home
Published by Slough for Westward Housing Group in Housing and also in Universal Credit
Anna Roberts of Bideford talks through her options with Louise Jones, Westward Income Services manager
Westward Housing Group and nineother social housing businesses in Devon joined forces in Bideford for the first of a series of ‘speed-dating’ for houses events, to help their customers move to more suitable housing.
This successful event to help social housing tenants find a mutual exchange house will save customers additional costs if their home is too big for them and help them find a more suitable property, perhaps larger or with a garden, if their needs have changed. Bideford was recently identified as one of the poorest areas in England.
More than 20 tenants came to the town hall and filled in a simple template about where they live with photos, and where they would like to live. These were viewed on the day and will next be scanned for our website so that all local people can see them. Tarka and Westcountry – the Westward housing association
They then discussed their moving home options including other affordable housing, shared ownership, Help to Buy home owners schemes, finding jobs and making the most of they money.
Westward’s Income Services Manager, Louise Jones, said: “Welfare reform is bringing huge changes for social housing tenants. Thousands of people living in Devon and Cornwall have been affected by the introduction of the bedroom tax.
“It’s not just demand for smaller properties though, we have families in need of bigger homes because they’ve outgrown their current one, and older people who are struggling to manage larger properties.
“For some the only option is to move, but up until now that hasn’t been easy. This event offered tenants the opportunity to consider all their options in their search for a suitable new home by allowing them to advertise their properties and let others know what they were looking for in return”
Westward was joined by other local housing organisations and specialist agencies such as North Devon Homes, Devon and Cornwall Housing, Sanctuary Housing, Devon Home Choice, Hastoe, Homeswapper, South West Homes, Torridge District Council and the Job Centre. Money advice experts were also there to help local people affected by benefits changes and the ‘bedroom tax’ or underoccupation.
Home swapping, also known as mutual exchange, makes it easier for people living in social housing to move. If the properties match their requirements and the landlord agrees, then people can simply swap. Similar events are to follow at other locations in Devon and Cornwall.